Can viral marketing result in us being accomplices to violence?

I was watching Cold Case on TNT and the trailer for the upcoming Diane Lane flick “Untraceable” came on. The premise of this movie is that Diane Lane’s character is in charge of the FBI’s cyber-crime task force and she comes across this website that shows a live stream (a la Ustream.tv) of someone being murdered and the twist is that the more people that visit the site, the quicker the victim will die. Of course then they throw in some other twists like the website is untraceable (hence the name of the movie) and they can’t find the guy responsible for this site.

What’s interesting is that in the trailer, they debate whether it’s good for the people involved to have a press conference to tell people to not visit the website. The one problem is that if you tell someone NOT to visit a site, the first thing they’ll do when they get a chance is to visit a site – hence the dilemma the FBI has in this movie. And apparently if people did visit this site after being told not to, they would be considered an accomplice to the homicide.

Now obviously everything has its own pros and cons and viral marketing is no different. From this standpoint, viral marketing is quick and can spread like wildfire, but once something has been done – like telling someone NOT to visit a website, only to result in the masses visiting the website, what do you think can be done to counteract this issue? With many methods of spreading the word, is it even possible to slow it down? I’m not sure it’s possible – with people being capable of simply jumping online and posting on blogs, social sites (Facebook, MySpace, Mashable, etc.), Twittering, voice messages on Utterz, vlogging on Seesmic or YouTube, jumping on forums, there are so many mediums available that once the word is out, I’m thinking you’ll need to sit back and hope for the best and pray your PR folks can help save your product.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.